Titus 2: 11-14
LUKE 2: 8-18

December 24, 2020

If you asked me what I want this year … Seriously,  Seriously, if you ask me what I want this year.  You know in this season of glitter and lights … lists and lusts … denunciations and lies … cold glances and non-masking individuals not caring who they infect with a possible death sentence … if you ask me what I want this year … I will try to make this kind and clear … JUST A CHANCE that together we’ll find BETTER DAYS.

The words of my fellow Buffalonian, John Rzeznik, whose song of the Christmas season has been listened to and sung by millions since its release in 2005, have been included in most of my Christmas Eve services since then … sort of like a ‘Where’s Waldo’ search because one never knows where they will end up.  Just like another friend’s lyrics ever present in these services that tonight make up our Call to Worship; a tribute to Paul’s work of faith through TSO.  John’s words carry much more power to me tonight … and if you were to play his song perhaps they would bring a challenge to you too.

We need to sing the message of Christmas out loud; reminding the world that the loving God of Creation … the loving God who ordered the stars and the planets in the sky … delivered Jesus to us out of love and if we pay attention … yes, if we change actually if we truly pay attention we will change … that is if we believe. Then our collective song can be the message that everyone’s forgiven now because of that one poor homeless child who came to save the world!  Out of love friends … out of God’s love for you .. God’s love for me … God’s love for every single person even … yes, even for those living and breathing human beings who in 2020 you personally have chosen to disregard as being your equal because they just happen to think differently than you.

God chose not to have His Son born in a palace to the rich and powerful.  Yet some 21st century humans choose to worship the rich and powerful of our times as if they are gods. Where in the world is Jesus in their hearts? You really wonder. Scriptures have a disdain for those who embrace such things while truly showcasing God’s desire for God’s people to care for the poor with all that we have been blessed to have received.

The saint of this season, Nicholas received his sainthood because he was known for his generosity towards the poor … we need to remember God’s call in Matthew 25 rather than investing our time and moneys wanting and buying “boxes wrapped in strings and designer love and empty things[1]” And, we need better days where we commit to God … where we actually read what Jesus taught in the Gospels and then we need to live our lives as if Jesus’ words matter … matter more than any human’s dictates or social media messages.  “Tonight friends, is the night when our world can begin again!” If we choose to let Jesus happen in our lives … live out Christmas’ intent. Be renewed and reenergized in our faith.

The lessons of love reiterated by Jesus throughout His time on earth should have taught us by now. When challenged by the religiously focused and power craving lawyer who wanted to hear how one could obtain eternal life with God … Jesus declared LOVE GOD first … and then LOVE ALL OF YOUR NEIGHBORS … when pressed,  Jesus then pointed out that to obtain eternal life you have to be willing to cross the road to help the beaten and the hurt … read Luke 10 for that lesson friends.  The prophet spoke of the expectations of God … DO JUSTICE and Jesus verified that is what loving your neighbors is all about and that such love for everyone is required …. Actually REQUIRED for eternal life with God. Faith without actions … well, it’s dead.

The sweet baby “Away in a manger no crib for his bed’ became a man … a teacher, a rabbi … a SAVIOR to believers … the One who could best declare to the world what it means to BELIEVE … to HAVE FAITH … to GAIN ETERNAL LIFE with GOD … ENDLESS LOVE for EVERYONE not just the ones like you! Church on this Christmas Eve … do you believe?  Has that one poor child saved you?  Do you wish EVERYONE in the world was loved equally and justly tonight and that your love … the personal love that you have in your heart … the love you express through your words on your social media as well as in your conversations and not just when you are in church or hanging with church folks like this evening … that your love is there for all of them?  All of us? All of humanity wherever they come from; whatever they look like; however they voted; whatever they sound like; whoever they live with … equally and completely! Do you love everybody tonight on this night when we celebrate God’s love? Are you ready to take the words of Jesus Christ seriously and SING THEM OUT LOUD? ENDLESS LOVE!

This season of Advent I have been inspired by a song, which should not surprise those who know me.  A friend posted Jon Batiste’s [2]ENDLESS LOVE and it struck home but so does the message from Paul’s letter to Titus this evening … the song reflecting on Christmas goes “It’s the time when the spirit’s bringing joy to the world” and Paul is writing “the Grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all people” that friends is a JOY to the WORLD!

And, the song goes … “And, this year as we gather round the tree don’t forget the reason is to live in perfect harmony” and Paul’s response in Titus, “He, JESUS … the Babe in the Manger … gave Himself for us in order to rescue us and cleanse a special people who are eager to do good actions.”  JOY to the WORLD … can you say it church … can you sing it with me  JOY TO THE WORLD?


And, the song goes … “And, every year I think to myself who I am and who I can help.  And, every year I think to myself what really matters is what you do for someone else.” And, then there is Paul’s reminder to us and to Titus, “The grace of God educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting the desires of the world.”  Jesus would add in, “when you have done it for one of the least amongst you you have shown love and done it for me.”  SHARING LOVE THAT LASTS FOREVER … JOY TO THE WORLD!

And, our evening from Christmas Eve 2020 will fade away … whether you are here in person or watching over social media singing the carols of the season.  Will you remember to look up Matthew 25 and Luke 10?  Will you remember the Holy Scripture from Titus?  The words of the songs?   Will you be putting Christ into your life or is He just a figurine to be packed away with the other ornaments that made the Christmas season a bit brighter and perhaps even happier … a figurine in your mind and heart rather than the One who continues to teach you how to live each day and who “gave Himself up for all of us” and for all the them’s in the world not like us … on that cross … to rescue us from our “lawless behavior” and to “cleanse us” of our sins?

We call the season of Advent the season of anticipation and I like to consider Christmas Eve the night of reflection for all of us pastor and church members … occasional church attender … accidental social media viewer when we stop and remember the endless love of God through Jesus Christ.  I would like you to join me tonight in seriously considering whether through this time of worship and through Christmas 2020 whether you are ready to join with me and allow our faith life to be renewed, reenergized and to actually begin again …to take the words of Jesus Christ and to sing them out loud … EVERYONE could be forgiven now regardless of what has happened before if people who truly believe in Jesus used the Gospel messages as our daily references and told those we know about the man the babe became.  The Messiah … our Savior.

The answers are so simple in a complicated world … faith and trust and peace while we’re alive.   LET us come together sharing love that lasts forever.   Because life is so much better when there’s endless love. 

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And when the shepherds had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”

And, friends … it’s the time when the spirit’s bringing joy to the world!  Take the joy of the season and live a life sharing endless love for God and for your neighbors; ALL OF THEM! Tell them the story of Jesus …. They just might love to hear the truth from the Gospels and perhaps hearing the true message of faith they might want to believe in God’s Son born a small child in a dirty manger stall on Christmas Day.

So, go ahead and ask me what I want this year … It’s BETTER DAYS … you and I can make sure that the message of Christmas is not tied up in the pretty boxes but is shared in the world.  That people like you and me demonstrate the lessons of Jesus and the expectations of God’s love through our words and our actions including what we post on social media.  God’s love that brings us eternal life when we truly believe.

ENDLESS LOVE … let’s begin tonight and live in perfect harmony because we are followers of the Son of God, Jesus Christ … born in a manger to the glory of God …. And He is still with us IMMANUEL!  PRAISE GOD!  JOY TO THE WORLD! MERRY CHRISTMAS to ALL!  And, TO ALL THE LOVE OF GOD through JESUS CHRIST!


[1] Lyrics from ‘BETTER DAYS’ John Rzeznik recorded by GOO GOO DOLLS

[2] ENDLESS LOVE written by Aloe Blacc

© 2017- St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ